Passive Guy has blogged about the Kindle Owners Lending Library for Prime members several times. Here’s the first. Search for Kindle Lending to see a lot more.
Several indie authors complained that this Lending Library was apparently limited to traditionally-published books because it was a great opportunity to promote their books. In a comment to one blog post, Joe Konrath said he would “PAY Amazon to get into a situation where they gave away my books for free.”
PG has just received a confidential tip that Amazon is privately inviting self-published authors to join this library.
Here is part of what the tipster said:
I got a call from a woman who works at Amazon’s KDP. She made me an offer that sounded good at first. But by the end of our conversation I realize that offer was a complete ripoff. She said they are offering this to individuals privately until December 1, when they will go public.
Here’s their offer: If I agree to make my ebooks available exclusively in the Kindle store and participate in the Kindle Lending Library, I will earn fees from a fund they have set aside ($500,000 for the first five months).
This sounded interesting at first, until I realized that nobody would ever borrow one of my books from the Kindle Lending Library. You have to be an Amazon Prime member and you can only “check out” one ebook per month.
If someone wants to read one of my books, priced at $2.99, and they also want to read another book priced at $9.99, whose book are they going to borrow? The one priced at $9.99, of course.
Sure, they might still buy my book. But if they really want my book, they will buy it anyway. Meantime, I wouldn’t get one penny of the $500,000, and I wouldn’t get anything from B&N, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc.
PG both disagrees and agrees with his source.
The major promotional benefit from the Kindle Library is that readers are given a chance to sample an author’s book. If they enjoy the free book in the library, they’re likely to purchase at least one and probably more than one of the author’s other books. This works particularly well with series books.
While PG understands the $9.99 vs. $2.99 concern, even if only a few Prime members sample a $2.99 book, an indie author should still see the follow-on sales effect.
Where PG agrees with his confidential friend is that it’s a risky idea for an indie author to pull his/her ebooks down from other online bookstores.
Generally speaking, most authors generate most ebook sales from Amazon, but there are many exceptions. Ebook sales can also come in spurts, particularly from some of the smaller online sellers. If the Kobo Fantasy Book Club falls in love with your urban vampire Canadian cozy mystery featuring a dragon who sips tea, you may get some very nice sales there.
On the other hand, there’s the $100,000 per month fund that will be split, presumably among participating indie authors only.
PG will put on his lawyer’s hat for a moment.
There’s a contract somewhere in this offer. A few of the questions PG would want the contract to answer are:
- Can I pull my book out of the Kindle Lending Program at any time? If not, what’s my minimum time commitment?
- Once my book is out of the Lending Program, are there any restrictions to prevent me from immediately re-publishing it on other online book stores?
- Does joining the Lending Program prevent me from unpublishing my book on Amazon per the KDP Publishing Terms and Conditions? Or switching to a 35% royalty to get out of the lending program? If I unpublish, can I republish? How soon can I republish? If I switch royalty rates, how soon can I go back to 70%?
- How is the $100,000 per month incentive payment going to be divided? Is it only for indie authors?
- Will I receive reports on how often my book is borrowed?
- Can I select which book or books are included in the Lending Program? Can I change my selection(s)?
PG understands that Amazon is always looking for competitive advantages for its ebooks. However, although he’s happy to be convinced otherwise, PG thinks the Amazon-exclusive part of this program is a needless complication that will make indie authors suspicious about the deal.
Finally, the requirement that an author remove ebooks from other sites is apparently being imposed only on self-pubbed authors. PG just checked the Nook Store and all the traditionally-published ebooks he checked that are part of the Kindle Owners Lending Library are still available for the Nook. Ditto for the Kobo store.
This distinction will not sit well with many indie authors.
CAUTION: PG would not have posted this if he did not believe the story to be accurate. However, for obvious reasons, he has not been able to check this with Amazon, so realize there may be some inaccuracies.